Chandler is a large city of about 240,000 residents. It is located in Maricopa County, Arizona, and is considered a major suburb of the Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area. Chandler is an innovation hub that is home to many high technology manufacturing firms. Some of Chandler's top employers are Intel, eBay, Microchip Technology, and Freescale Semiconductor. In addition to a thriving economy, an annual Ostrich Festival attracts many visitors. However, Chandler experiences a number of violent and property crimes — there are about 628 violent crimes and 6,571 property crimes annually. Those accused of a crime face Arizona's harsh penal system and should contact an experienced Chandler criminal defense attorney for counsel and representation.

Theft in Arizona

Theft can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the dollar value of the stolen property. Any theft of property or services worth less than $1,000 is a class 1 misdemeanor or petty theft, except where the property is an animal taken for animal fighting or a firearm. An example of misdemeanor theft is shoplifting from a pharmacy or other store where the stolen objects have a relatively low value. Some other crimes of theft include larceny, burglary, and embezzlement.

In Arizona, a person may be charged with theft for (1) controlling someone else's property with the intent to deprive that person of the property, (2) using someone else's property or services for an unauthorized time period, (3) acquiring someone else's property or services through fraud, (4) controlling lost property without trying to locate the true owner, (5) taking control of stolen property, or (6) taking compensable services without paying or agreeing to pay.

When no prior felony convictions are involved, Arizona law requires a convicted defendant to receive the presumptive sentence for felony theft; this is usually the mid-range sentence for a crime. In any given case, there may be aggravating or mitigating circumstances that persuade a judge to increase or reduce the presumptive sentence.

There are 5 classes of felony theft from class 6 to class 2 felony theft. Class 2 felony theft involves theft of property or services valued at $25,000 or more. If you are charged with class 2 felony theft you face the possibility of imprisonment for a minimum of 3 years up to a maximum of 12.5 years, plus a fine of $150,000 or less.

Defenses to Theft Charges

A skillful criminal defense attorney may be able to challenge a charge of theft or a related crime by showing innocence or an absence of intent. The latter is commonly used because a prosecutor must be able to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the intent to commit the theft with which you're charged. Evidence can be brought forward to show this was not your intent, or to cast doubt on the prosecutor's proof of intent.

Even if it isn't possible to get the charges dismissed or dropped in their entirety, a skillful criminal defense attorney may be able to get you into a prosecution diversion program. These programs, available to first-time offenders and those that have committed minor crimes in Arizona, impose restitution and community service as penalties, rather than hefty fines or jail time. Alternatively, a prosecutor may be willing to engage in plea bargaining, rather than use significant resources to go to trial.

On Your Side

If you or someone you love is charged with theft or another crime, it is important to contact a knowledgeable Chandler criminal defense lawyer to review the facts of your particular case and to develop a strong and strategic defense. Call James Novak today at (480) 413-1499 or contact us via our online form.